Here at G, we’re confident we’ve seen unique destinations in all shapes and forms all over the world – but none of ‘em are quite like Bhutan. This small Himalayan country has managed to quietly stay off the radar for many travellers, but those in the know – and those looking for their own piece of spirituality – are aware that Bhutan’s got a ton to offer.
First, let’s talk GNH. Nope, not GDP – GNH. In Bhutan, the people care more about Gross National Happiness than Gross Domestic Product. So literally, happiness is Bhutan’s most prized export. True enough, Business Week rated Bhutan the happiest place in the world, according to a global survey. This should come as no surprise to anyone who’s visited; Bhutan is a preternaturally peaceful place, owing especially to the prevalence of Buddhist culture in the country. There are legions of monks on the streets of Bhutan, preaching love and peace towards all living things.
The landscape of Bhutan also adds to the serenity of the country. Conservation laws have protected almost 75% of Bhutan’s forested areas, so there’s no lack of green spaces to meditate upon. Bhutan is also home to some of the world’s highest mountains, and there are a number of little monasteries tucked away in the cliffs. With the view of the Himalayas in the background, it’s hard to snap a bad photo in Bhutan.
Sure enough, our fearless leader Bruce Poon Tip made a trip to Bhutan early in his career, and affirmed all this good stuff in his book Looptail: How One Company Changed The World By Reinventing Business. Here’s a little quip from Bruce on Bhutan:
“…by Western standards of progress and development, these people had so little, yet they were so happy. It just seemed like heaven to me, and I don’t think I can understate the importance of that trip when it came time for us to focus on happiness at G Adventures.
“In the office, we started to discuss building our business model around happiness. I had spent a lot of time since my trip to Bhutan learning about their country and their king’s Gross National Happiness model.”
All that being said, a quest for spirituality ain’t easy. There’s a restriction on solo travel in Bhutan, meaning that you have to get your trip cleared ahead of time through an agency so you have a guide with you when you explore. Also, it costs less to travel to Bhutan if you go with a group – otherwise, it’s a hefty fee to spend your time in this little country. These restrictions aren’t baseless; the fees are to help maintain the country’s natural environment and “spiritual integrity,” so think of it as an investment in helping to maintain the loveliness of Bhutan.
Does organizing all these fees and guides and everything sound daunting? Well, conveniently enough, we have a Classic style trip and are introducing a new Comfort style trip to Bhutan. So if you’re looking to experience nirvana alongside other happiness-seeking travellers, there’s no better chance than now. Just make sure you get there soon – Bhutan’s considered to be something of an emerging destination, and so the country is changing in order to better attract tourists. Go get some gross national happiness for yourself as soon as possible.